Earns recognition for its influential Seafood Watch program

Monterey Bay Aquarium is “Tastemaker of the Year” for 2008. Recognizing the aquarium’s Seafood Watch program ( for its influential role in transforming seafood buying habits, Bon Appétit Magazine honors the aquarium and other recipients. The 11th annual Bon Appétit Awards ceremony in New York City was held on September 15, 2008.

Selecting the aquarium for its work in communicating the message of sustainable seafood at a time when many commercial fisheries are collapsing or in decline around the world, the October 2008 issue of Bon Appétit Magazine features more details about the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s accomplishments in promoting sustainable seafood.

Aquarium Executive Director Julie Packard said the non-profit organization was honored to receive this award, especially in light of the fact that through their seafood choices, consumers and businesses can have a tremendous impact on the health of the oceans. "That’s why we started Seafood Watch."

Since 1999, the Monterey Bay Aquarium ( has distributed more than 24 million consumer pocket guides nationwide to help individuals make seafood choices that protect the long-term health of ocean ecosystems. It has partnered with the two largest food service companies in North America – Compass Group and ARAMARK – which have made commitments to shift their purchases of millions of pounds of seafood annually to sustainable sources.

From its beginnings in 1997 as an informal set of recommendations intended for use in the aquarium’s own food service and animal food room operations, Seafood Watch has grown to encompass a robust research team that produces and updates six regional pocket guides highlighting seafood items available in different parts of the United States, a national pocket guide, three Spanish-language pocket guides and a mobile version available instantly on Internet-enabled phones and PDAs.

Monterey Bay Aquarium is now working with two other conservation organizations – the Blue Ocean Institute and Environmental Defense Fund – to release new consumer guides to sustainable sushi. The sushi pocket guides and new online content will be available in mid-October.

The work of the Seafood Watch research team is the basis for other consumer pocket guides produced by institutions including the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago and Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta . The aquarium’s outreach and major buyers teams have developed partnerships with leading food service companies and restaurants, as well as more than 175 aquariums, zoos and other organizations that follow Seafood Watch guidelines and distribute pocket guides in their regions.

Nationwide, more than 2,500 people have signed up as Seafood Watch Advocates, promoting sustainable seafood activities in their communities. The future of seafood, and the fate of ocean wildlife, is an urgent environmental issue, according to Packard. Recent projections predict all commercial fisheries will be gone within 40 years at the current rate. The mission of the Monterey Bay Aquarium is to inspire conservation of the oceans.